Administration

Two more GOP senators to meet with Obama’s Supreme Court pick

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President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee will meet next week with two Republican senators, a development the White House sees as a positive sign in the confirmation battle with Senate Republicans. 
 
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced this week that she’ll meet with Judge Merrick Garland on Tuesday. And a White House official said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) will sit down with Garland on the same day. 
 
{mosads}The meeting comes after Collins said she was “perplexed” by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to deny Garland a hearing or vote. 
 
“It just seemed to me that there was no basis for saying that no matter who the president nominates, we were not going to consider that individual,” she told a local radio station.
 
Collins’s and Boozman’s meetings follow Garland huddling this week with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
 
Kirk, who is facing a tough reelection bid, was the first GOP senator to say he would consider voting for Garland. 
 
Just four Republican senators have said they support confirmation hearings or a vote on Garland’s nomination. 
 
But White House officials say the fact that roughly 16 GOP senators have said they’re open to meeting with the Garland is a sign the party’s court blockade could crack and the judge could ultimately be confirmed. 
 
“It will become increasingly difficult for them not to meet with him,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said Friday at a Politico breakfast. 
 
“Let’s have a hearing. … Let the American people see him and make a decision about whether they support him,” he added. “I think if they see him, they will support him, and he will be confirmed.”
 
Party leaders have shown no signs of backing down from their pledge not to hold hearings or votes on Garland’s nomination. Many Republicans have said they will use a meeting to reiterate that they believe the seat should remain vacant. 
 
Asked about his colleagues’ plans to meet with Garland, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said McConnell and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, won’t take up Garland’s nomination. 
 
“Both of them have said this seat will not be filled during the lame duck last year of this president’s presidency,” Cornyn, the Senate majority whip, told a local radio station Wednesday. “This isn’t anything new.” 
 
Garland also plans to meet with several Senate Democrats next week as well, the White House official said. 
 
He’s meeting with Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) on Tuesday. The next day, he’ll meet with Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).
 
Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Chris Coons (Del.) will speak with Garland on Thursday. 
 
Five of the senators — Blumenthal, Durbin, Feinstein, Whitehouse and Coons — sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
 
The meetings come as Democrats and outside groups have tried to keep up pressure on Republicans during a two-week recess. 
 
President Obama will continue the effort next Thursday with a speech to law students at the University of Chicago Law School, where he taught for almost a decade.
 
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), expected to be the next Senate Democratic leader, said GOP lawmakers “got an earful back home” on the Supreme Court. 
 
“Every day, voters grow more frustrated with Republican obstruction and more terrified by the prospect of Donald Trump picking the next Supreme Court justice,” he told reporters on a conference call Friday. 
 
Democrats argue that polling data proves momentum is on their side. A majority of Americans think Garland should ultimately be confirmed, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released late last month. 
 
Schumer noted that more than 30 Democratic lawmakers have held events, calls or written op-eds during the two-week recess. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a liberal favorite, will hold a call next week with MoveOn.org
 
He added that progress made on the Supreme Court battle over the two-week recess “exceeded our expectations.”
 
Democrats are focused on vulnerable Republicans up for reelection, as well as seven GOP senators who voted to confirm Garland to his current seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court.  
 
According to data released Friday by Constitutional Responsibility Project, more than 22,000 constituent “Do Your Job” calls have been made to nine Republican senators. Grassley has also gotten 42,000 “Do Your Job” petition signatures. 
 
To get Garland over procedural hurdles in the Senate, Obama will need the support of more than a dozen Republican senators. 
Tags Antonin Scalia Charles Schumer Chris Coons Chuck Grassley Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Heidi Heitkamp Jeanne Shaheen Joe Manchin John Boozman John Cornyn Mark Kirk Mitch McConnell Richard Blumenthal Sheldon Whitehouse Sherrod Brown Supreme Court Susan Collins

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